Minimalist Packing Checklist

After traveling full time for over a year, I consider myself to be a bit of a pro on the subject of minimalist packing. I have been traveling carry-on-only this entire time, fitting my entire life into a 44L backpack. Packing for a long trip used to be a daunting and terrifying experience; now I can do it much quicker and stress-free with my handy minimalist packing checklist!

My ebook is full of information on packing, how to figure out what to bring for your destination and season, and how to fit everything you need into a carry on. Have you seen the book yet?

Minimalist Packing Checklist

My minimalist packing checklist is a list of the absolute necessities that I bring with me on every trip. I’ve taken a page from my e-book to show you my exact minimalist packing checklist. My essentials have stayed the same for the past year and a half of traveling. This whole time, I’ve carried the same essentials around the world.

Minimalist Packing Checklist

My Backpack

I use a Tortuga Around the World 44L backpack because it is specifically designed for travel, instead of loads of backpacks that I looked at that were designed for trekking or hiking. I’ve used the same backpack this entire time, and it’s held together perfectly after a lot of wear and tear – I really throw that thing around sometimes.

Minimalist Packing Checklist

Packing Necessities

I use packing cubes as well, as I really like the way they organize the bag. I like these ones, but any packing cubes would work. You could even use bags that you already have, such as reusable grocery bags, which could be useful once you reach your destination as well. The packing cubes work well for me because I like to be able to see what is inside.

As far as toiletries go, I use a clear, see through bag. As I said, I like to be able to see my stuff. This one has worked well for me, because I can take it into the bathroom and shower without worrying about my stuff getting wet. I’ve recently gotten really into the Zero Waste lifestyle. So, I’ve switched from plastic to bamboo toothbrushes, as they are better for the environment. I’ve also switched to all cruelty free toiletries (post coming soon on that one).

Minimalist Packing Checklist

For the Plane

I like to use a small backpack on the plane as my personal item to really maximize space. I’ll throw everything from my purse into this backpack. Then I add in everything on my list under airplane bag: my laptop, headphones, a cute notebook, pen, snacks, eye mask, ear plugs, and my camera (I used to use this one, but I recently bought this one). I also have a little document holder that holds my passport and important travel things, but can double as a wallet on your travels!

Side note: Unless you work online, it’s not necessary to bring a laptop with you on a short trip. Of course, you can if you want to! Loads of my friends and family travel without a laptop. It just depends on you and your lifestyle.

What do you think of my packing list? Anything that you would add or take away? Where is your next trip?

Minimalist Packing Checklist

 

Top 10 Destinations for First Time Travelers

Are you considering taking a trip? After traveling to almost 30 countries solo, I’ve compiled a list of the top places to visit for first time travelers. These destinations have been chosen based on safety, ease of public transportation, and the ability to make friends and meet new people. Let’s get into it!

10. Cusco, Peru

Peru is one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world. Cusco is an adorable little city, full of history and culture. Plus, it’s the main hub for transport to Aguas Calientes, where you can see Machu Picchu.

Top Destinations for First Time Travelers

9. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

This little beach town is full of hidden gems – from secret beaches that you can find via hired bicycle, to healthy cafes featuring amazing pancakes, to great little places to meet new people over coffee or cocktails. One of my favorite memories in Puerto Viejo is accidentally stumbling upon the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen – and I found it completely deserted. It was all mine for a few hours, where I just sat in the water and listened to music.

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8. Hong Kong

Hong Kong is an excellent place to go if you are looking for a culture shock. The signs are in Chinese, the culture is very different than Western culture, but it’s still a relatively safe place for tourists and pretty easy to get around. Visit Victoria’s Peak for an epic view of the city, take a boat ride, or wander around and eat your way through the city.

Top Destinations for First Time Travelers Hong Kong

7. San Francisco, California

Of course one of my favorite places on Earth, San Francisco is full of life, character, and happiness. Take a picnic and hang out in Dolores Park for the day, watching kids blow bubbles and groups of friends cheers over champagne. Visit the Academy of Science for a fun and educational day, or head to the Marin Headlands for epic views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Top Destinations for First Time Travelers

6. Prague, Czech Republic

This city is stunningly beautiful. The architecture is incredible, the people are friendly, and the language is enchanting. Prague is still one of my favorite cities to date.

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5. Singapore

This city is an incredible blend of nature and metropolitan. Interspersed between massive buildings, you’ll find the Supertree Grove, which will make you feel like you’ve fallen into the movie Avatar. I highly recommend checking out the free botanic gardens and take the trip out to Veganburg for an epic vegan feast.

Top Destinations for First Time Travelers

4. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen will always hold a special place in my heart as it was my first stop on my never-ending around the world trip. Copenhagen made me fall in love with it’s old buildings, super friendly locals, and uber safe atmosphere. It’s also one of the highest rated cities for equality between men and women.

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3. Bali, Indonesia

Not that you need another reason to visit Bali, but I cannot recommend it enough for first time travelers. Bali is safe, fun, and tropical. I love Bali because there is something for everyone here – you can go out and party if you like that, or you can eat healthy food and go to yoga classes every day. If you’re visiting Bali, I’d highly recommend checking out a yoga retreat.

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2. Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is one of the raddest places on the planet. It’s been rated the world’s most liveable city for SIX YEARS IN A ROW. I love it so much that I made it my home for six months. Melbourne is full of friendly people, easy to use public transportation, and loads of eateries, dance clubs, markets, and festivals. There is always something going on in this city!

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  1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is a magical place. Though it can be overlooked by the standard tourist visiting Thailand (the Thai islands usually get all the attention), Chiang Mai is a destination not to be missed. Chiang Mai has an excellent expat scene, but the locals are friendly and engaging as well. Grab a beer on the roof of Maya mall, overlooking Nimmanheiman Road, or take a tuk tuk up to the temple at Doi Suthep. Chiang Mai is an excellent place to take a day trip to visit an elephant sanctuary, or check out Doi Inthanon. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Chiang Mai if you’d like to know what to do there.

Top Destinations for First Time Travelers Chiang Mai

THE BOOK IS HERE

Happy New Year! It’s 2017 and I hope that everyone is looking forward to the New Year. I love the energy that a new year brings. Fresh beginnings, a clean start, all of the opportunity that we can create this year – let’s do it!

I can’t wait to see how this year unfolds. I have loads of personal and professional goals lined up, along with a LOT of travel goals! Speaking of which…. Remember a few months ago I mentioned that I was working on an ebook?? Well, it’s finished, and IT’S HERE.

I’ve been working on an ultimate guide to traveling the world – this baby contains all of the answers to the questions I get asked so often, plus lots of tips and tricks for traveling. I’ll give you a sneak peak – here is the table of contents.

  1. Why I Chose Long Term Travel over the American Dream
  1. Preparing for your trip: What to do immediately
  • Bank accounts
  • Credit Cards
  • Savings Plan
  • Travel Insurance
  • Planning Your Trip
  1. How to Pack Only the Necessities & the Gear You’ll Need to Do It  
  1. How to Find the Cheapest Flight & Are ‘Around The World’ Tickets Worth It?
  1. Booking Accommodation
  • Which type of accommodation are you looking for?
  • Long Term Accommodation: How to Find The Best Apartment
  • How to Keep Your Stuff Safe While Travelling
  1. How to Get Around
  • Figuring out Local Transportation
  • Safety on the Road
  1. Saving Money on the Road
  • How to Get Free Tours
  1. So You Want to Travel Long Term
  • Work Visas vs Tourist Visas
  • Making Money Online
  • Getting Your Stuff Together at Home – Opportunities

9. Sample budgets from Thailand, South America, Europe and Australia

 

As you can see, I’ve covered a LOT of information. This book is 40+ pages full of insight on how to save money to travel, how I used travel hacking to get free flights (and how you can too!) and even tips on keeping your stuff safe while traveling. It’s pretty jam packed!

I know you guys will love the book. I created this because my mission is to help people travel more. Travel has changed my life in the best ways possible and has helped me grow into a better person. I hope that I can help you achieve your travel goals in 2017! Click here to get your copy – I can’t wait to hear what you think about it!

xoxoxx

Amanda

 

How To Plan A Trip Anywhere

Today I am going to tell you a story. This is a story about how I decided to travel the world. And it’s a good one.

About a year ago, I was on airbnb.com, dreaming of all of the beautiful vacation rentals around the world. I had wanderlust, and I had it bad. I found this stunner in Costa Rica and decided I could not let this beautiful place continue to exist without me in it. I immediately texted my sisters and asked if they would want to go to Costa Rica, and live in this house. Of course they agreed. How could they not?!

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We booked the trip, my mom joined in (terrified to travel somewhere new, but we reassured her that it would be fine), and we started planning. I started looking at maps to see where we would be and what we could do. I realized that maybe I could extend this trip and check off some other countries to my list. I’d wanted to go to Nicaragua after my friend Diana went there – her pictures were stunning. I had already started a vague plan with my brother to visit Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Why not throw all of these together and just do it all at once?

Once I decided to do these all at the same time, the trip got bigger by the minute. I knew I wouldn’t get enough time off work to be able to travel to all of these places, so I came to the conclusion that I would have to quit my job. I committed to this trip. It became my baby. It spiraled into an around the world trip. Because, why not? Or Por Que No, as they say in Nicaragua. 😉

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After making these decisions, I knew that I would have to start saving. I saved incessantly. I was obsessed. Knowing that I only had a certain amount of time (and income) to save, I became ruthless. I cancelled my cell phone contract immediately. I started carpooling to work. I turned into a money saving machine. I did my own pedicures. I started making coffee at home and banned myself from Starbucks. I have an entire article of everything I did to save money, see it here.

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The bottom line is this: if you want to plan a vacation, or if you want to quit your 9-5 to travel the world for a year (or forever), you can. Just do it! Make a plan, save like a crazy person, spend time on travel websites, and cut your expenses. If I can do it, anyone can. It just involves dedication, a little research, and a decent amount of saving. Let me know in the comments where you want to go next!

 

How to Spend a Week in Costa Rica

I travel. A lot. I’ve spent some time in Costa Rica. It’s an amazing place. A lot of people want to go there. If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, make sure you add these incredible places to your itinerary. This itinerary includes beaches, mountains, and both the Pacific and Caribbean side of Costa Rica. This itinerary can be made as expensive or inexpensive as you desire. Let’s start planning!

Day 1: Fly into the international airport in San Jose. Pick up a rental car from the airport – it’s by far the easiest way to get around. I would recommend an airbnb for the first night, to ensure maximum comfort and privacy. This is the one I stayed at (and loved!).

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Day 2: Take the three hour drive to Dominical. It’s on the Pacific side, has great beaches, a super cute downtown area, and lots of options for lodging. You can stay in a hostel for $10 a night downtown, or you can go luxurious with the best airbnb I’ve ever stayed at. My favorite restaurant here was Cafe Mono Congo – they offer a great variety of healthy, homemade foods. Patron’s has the best wifi, if that’s what you’re into.

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Relax at your place or on the Dominical beach the first full day – this is the perfect time to start those beach reads. There are a few places to buy fruit and souvenirs on the beach, so you may want to carve out some shopping time also.

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Day 3: Visit Manuel Antonio National Park. It’s about an hours drive from Dominical, but totally worth it. You are almost guaranteed to see monkeys (it would be really odd if you didn’t), plus there are sloths, deer, butterflies, waterfalls, and other wildlife. Plan to spend a whole day here; bring a lunch and wear your swimsuit. Be careful of the monkeys on the beach – they will try to steal your food! Bring a lot of water also – there is nowhere inside the park to buy more.

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After a full day of hiking and swimming at the park, go back to Dominical for the incredible sunsets.

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Day 4: This is where we go to the Caribbean side! Pack your luggage, and make the drive to Puerto Viejo. Stop at a little soda (a small, family owned, local restaurant) for an inexpensive but delicious lunch. There are tons of sodas on the way there. I took the route through the cloud forest of Costa Rica, so make sure you have time to stop and take some pictures.

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Puerto Viejo is a very cute and very small little town that is almost on the border of Panama. I decided to go budget-friendly here, and I stayed at Lion Fish Hostel, but there are a ton of options if you would prefer to go higher end. After checking in to your accommodation, I would recommend spending the afternoon at the beach in Puerto Viejo, then grabbing some dinner & drinks at any of the beach-front restaurants.

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Day 5: Take a stroll down the short jungle pathway in the morning. This is a short walk, right along the beach, but you are in the jungle. I saw sloths and howler monkeys while walking this path. After your walk, stop at Como En Mi Casa art cafe for breakfast. They offer a huge menu of fresh breakfasts, all homemade. You can go savory with a massive pancake, or healthy with smoothies, fresh bruschetta, and juices. They have the best coffee in Puerto Viejo by far; and everything is organic.

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After a filling breakfast, rent a bike and cruise down the street to Playa Chiquita. This beach is by far the best beach in Puerto Viejo – and it is usually completely deserted in the mornings. Pack a picnic, your book, and sunscreen, and take the 15 minute ride to the beach. This was actually the best beach I found in Costa Rica. If you feel like going out, there are restaurants on the way to the beach that offer smoothies, salads, burritos, pizza, and an array of tropical beverages.

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Ride your bike back in the late afternoon, and spend the rest of the evening relaxing in a hammock, or head over to any of the restaurants for a nice dinner and some more tropical drinks.

Day 6: Depending on your flight going out the next day, you may need to head back to San Jose today. If you can wait and head back tomorrow, check out either of the following places on your sixth day: Jaguar Rescue Center (if you want more wildlife), Cahuita National Park (hiking), or Terraventures Jungle Expeditions (if you are feeling adventurous – they offer great zip lining).

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Day 7: Pack it up and head home. Reminisce on how amazing it is to travel. Remember how great you feel and start planning your next adventure. 🙂

Thanks for reading! What did you think of my itinerary? Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to Costa Rica, or if you plan on going!

 

35 Ways to Save Money for Travel

When I decided I wanted to travel, I knew two things: one, that I was going to have to do some serious saving, and two, I was going to have to do it fast. My parents do NOT fund my travels – I planned it and saved for it on my own. This is everything I did to save money for travel.

How to Save Money for Travel

How to Save Money To Travel

How to Save Money To Travelice skating in Amsterdam

Before Leaving to Travel: food & drink

I moved back home. I cooked at home, hardly ever going out to eat. I ate what I had at home instead of satisfying cravings of ice cream and junk food. I’m a vegan, so I saved money by eating a plant- and grain-heavy diet.

I used a refillable water bottle so I would never have to buy water. I brought lunch to work, so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat out. I stopped drinking expensive juices and fancy vegan food; instead I ate only whole foods (I was focused – you have to be to save money to travel).

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I was working in the wine industry and got bottles that were not sellable – I drank those with friends instead of going out to trendy bars. I spent my weekends doing free activities, like hiking or going for walks.

I made black coffee at home or at work instead of going to Starbucks. I wore clothes I already had instead of buying new ones. I would meet friends at the park on Sunday mornings instead of brunch. I started going on hikes closer to home instead of driving far away. I would ride my bike when I could instead of driving. I carpooled to work.

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Before Leaving To Travel: Recurring Expenses

I quit my gym membership. I quit my cell phone plan and ran off wifi only. I stopped upgrading my phone. I downgraded my car insurance. I sold stuff I didn’t use anymore. Eventually I even sold my car – this eliminated gas, car insurance, and maintenance. I started riding my bike to the library instead of buying new books and magazines.

During Travel

I saved money on my travels by travel hacking – I buy my plane tickets with airline miles, and I almost always make my own meals. I eat a lot of pb&j, and a lot of local food (when it’s inexpensive). I couch surfed in Europe, which gave me access to kitchens and free tour guides (who became wonderful friends). I stayed in hostels  or airbnbs instead of hotels in Central America.

I walk instead of taking the bus. I lay out at the beach instead of going on expensive tours (though I do go on tours if I really want to – just not expensive ones). I bring snacks from the grocery store for planes instead of buying expensive airport food. I don’t go out at night – instead I read, work, or watch Netflix. 

I’ve lived in some countries on less than $30 a day! 

How To Save Money For TravelBronte Beach in Australia 

All of these things may seem little, but when you add them up, they can create a massive difference. For some, these little savings could add up to a nice trip a couple times a year. For me, each little savings means a longer trip around the world – and living the life I used to only dream of. 

 

Access Denied: Getting Rejected at the Panama Border

I had one of the craziest days of my life trying to cross the border into Panama from Costa Rica. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

 

To understand the story, I’m going to supply you with some information: to cross the border from Nicaragua a few weeks ago, I had to have proof that I had a plane ticket going back to the United States. While crossing this border, I was with my sister, who was traveling with me for a few weeks. I told the guy at Immigration that I was on the same flight as my sister (which was a total lie), and he just stamped my passport and let me pass.

So, the day of the border crossing into Panama, I woke up early and went to a solid vegan breakfast with my new friend, Matty. I had to say good bye to my precious vegan restaurant (if you are ever in Puerto Viejo, go to Como en mi Casa)! I celebrated with a very thick vegan pancake, covered in jam and fruit.

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After breakfast, we headed to the border. Matty had made a friend who had a rental car, and wanted to see the border, so he gave us a ride there. He dropped us off, and we saw the famous bridge that goes across the river from Costa Rica into Panama.

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We paid the departure tax ($4), and got our stamps from Costa Rica immigration. We walked the bridge into Panama, paid the entrance tax ($6 per person), and then headed to immigration. This is where the story goes south.

Matty went to the immigration officer first. They asked to see her plane ticket back home. She was able to pull it up on her iPad, so she showed the ticket to the officer, got her stamp, and was free to go. I, on the other hand, do not have a flight back home, because I am not going home. I went up to the officer and explained my situation. I told him that I am traveling the world, with no return date to the United States. I told him that I am traveling by bus, so I don’t have a plane ticket. He listened, and then told me that I cannot get into Panama without a plane ticket home. He didn’t care that I was going to Colombia in less than two weeks; he cared about when I was going back to the United States. This was a problem.

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What does one do in this situation?

I bought a plane ticket home.

I use Chase Sapphire Preferred (my FAVORITE credit card for travel hacking and in general – they give excellent rewards), and I know that I can buy a plane ticket and then get it refunded by calling them within 24 hours. So, I bought a ticket home for $343.72 at an internet cafe (after paying $4 to use the internet) and showed it to immigration. They verified the ticket, stamped my passport, and waived me along.

SUCCESS.

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Things seemed to get easier after this. We got on a bus that would take us to the boat we needed to get on. We got on the boat with only a few problems (we did a money exchange with the taxi driver – LOL). The boat took us to Bocas del Toro, our final destination. Yay! Everything worked out.

UNTIL IT DIDN’T. We decided that we wanted to stay on this little island that had a really rad looking hostel. We got a water taxi for $1.50 each to take us to this island. We walked in and fell in love with the hostel (seriously, check this out – it has a trampoline to jump into the water!). We had to wait a few minutes to talk to the receptionist. When she arrived, we inquired about a room for the night. She gave us the look (you know, sympathy mixed with a bit of ridicule) and told us that there were no rooms for the night. She said there was one other hostel on the island, but she was pretty sure it was full.

At this point I was exhausted. It was 5 pm, we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and I just wanted to set my bag down and take a shower. Matty said that she would run down to the other hostel, and I could chill out at Aqua Lounge and wait for her. I felt so relieved when she said that. I slid into a booth at the hostel bar, connected to wifi, and drank my water.

Matty came back about 15 minutes later and told me that the hostel had two beds left and we could stay there. Yes! We grabbed our bags and walked 5 minutes down the sand to the only other hostel on the island. The hostel was on the beach; it had wifi, an adorable restaurant, hammocks, and lounge chairs. It was perfect! We threw our bags in the room and got in our swimsuits. We locked the room and ran out to the beach, into the clear blue Caribbean waters. It was paradise.

UNTIL IT WASN’T. After a very refreshing dip in the ocean, after we talked at length about how great everything turned out and how lucky we were, we went back to the room. We noticed we had roommates now, and someone had moved one of the pillows from my bed to theirs. I didn’t mind, but I said something to Matty about it and we looked over at the stolen pillow. AND THEN WE SAW IT.

BED BUGS. The hostel was infested with bed bugs. We took a picture of the bug and looked it up on google to confirm. Once we were totally positive that it was a bed bug, we packed our bags super quick and ran out of there. No one was at reception – by now it was 9 PM, and reception was closed. The guy at the hostel bar was helpful; we told him what happened and he refunded us. He admitted that they had a bedbug problem a few weeks before. These little bugs are so disgusting and basically taking over the world (according to google). After a lot of research, Matty and I found out how difficult it is to get rid of them. Eeewwwwww.

So. Now it was 9PM, it was dark, and we were on an island with no place to stay. We tried the expensive-looking hotel next door, but reception there was also closed. We found a stranger who owned a boat and got a water taxi back to the main island. We walked 10 minutes to the hostel that we were looking at on the main island before, then realized it was closed. We were starting to feel a bit defeated, and I was seriously considering sleeping on the beach at this point. Then we met an angel.

While we were standing in the middle of the road, close to tears, a local walked by and asked how we were doing. The people in Bocas del Toro are extremely nice and friendly, but not in a creepy way. We told the guy our story. He introduced himself as Reynaldo, and we told him our names. He said he knew of a hotel down the road that we could go to; he knew for sure there was a vacancy there. He led the way. He even carried Matty’s bag (she has an insanely large bag that she had been dragging around on a trolly type thing). We walked a bit more to this hotel, and when we got there, Reynaldo started yelling out for Dennis (because this hotel was closed also), and an American man named Dennis came sauntering out of the house. Matty explained our situation and asked him if we could stay there. He looked at us with no expression, and just said “No.” I thought for sure that he was joking. I waited for him to smile and say “oh, I’m just kidding, come on in.” It was silence for a few moments before I asked, “Really?”

“Yes, those bed bugs are a pain to get rid of, and I don’t want to deal with that,” says Dennis. He turned around and walked back into the house.

At this point, I completely gave up. I actually shed a few tears. I honestly believed that we were SOL and we would be sleeping in the park, like homeless people. But our angel Reynaldo perservered. He would not give up. He looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t worry, I know another place, and it’s right over there.” It was right down the street. I left Matty with the bags and headed over to check this place out. I held back the story about the bed bugs and inquired about a room for two. The owner of this little hotel was the cutest little lady who speaks only Spanish. She gave us a room with two beds, air conditioning, and our own private bathroom for $40/night.

SUCCESS.

We grabbed our bags, got the key and the wifi password, and collapsed into our beds. Finally we could sleep! We took showers and headed off to dreamland. The longest day ever was over. I slept great, except at one point I woke up from this little guy outside my window continuously screaming “HOLA! HOLA! HOLA!” I took a look in the morning and found the culprit.

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He was so cute, I couldn’t be mad at him.

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Though it was a hard day, I almost titled this post “the best worst day ever,” because a lot of good things did happen. We got so much help from strangers who expected nothing. We got a full refund from the hostel that had bed bugs. We were able to get a water taxi back to the main island when all hope seemed lost. We ran into Reynaldo, who helped us tremendously out of the goodness of his heart. We went to an adorable French restaurant and had a very nice dinner for $12 each. I was with Matty, who made everything more fun. All in all, though it was a hard day, we got through it together and nothing too bad happened.

When traveling, I try to remember that some days will be hard. Some days it’s a struggle just to find food, water, and shelter. Other days this life is truly blissful. Though some days are hard, I would never give up traveling because of the hardships. Having a hard day inspires growth and makes me so much more thankful for the good days I have. I feel so lucky to be here in Panama, in 85 degree weather, surrounded by beaches, palm trees, tropical fruit, and insanely cheap smoothies. I’m working on my Spanish (I WILL be fluent before I leave South America!) and I am making amazing connections with people around the world. I couldn’t be happier.

Thank you so much for reading this super long post – stay tuned to see what Matty and I get up to in Bocas del Toro! 🙂

P.S. I called my credit card company from the infested hostel and got my plane ticket refunded – Chase Sapphire is the best! I was able to call from my cell phone even though I don’t have a cell phone plan. I am currently working on a video about how to use your cell phone without a plan. I’ll let you know when it’s up!

“You’re so lucky”

I’ve been able to be a lot more open about my around the globe trip lately. I love telling people that I’m travelling the globe as it still kind of shocks me. I had always wanted to travel but I hadn’t ever created a plan to actually do it. Until now.

When I tell people about my trip, a very common reaction is – “Oh my gosh, you are so lucky! I wish I could do that. Someday I’ll travel.”

What is it that makes me “lucky”? I am aware that I have advantages that not everyone has. I don’t have kids, I am able to live with my parents rent-free, I have a job and a steady paycheck. All of these things I am extremely grateful for.

But even if you have to pay rent/have a dog/have red hair, you can travel too. I was lucky that I was able to cut my expenses so drastically to save a lot of money in a very short period of time. But there is nothing “lucky” about the way I did that. I cancelled my cell phone plan, I lived with my parents (and you know that isn’t easy), I rarely eat out, I don’t go out to bars or clubs, I don’t take weekend trips, I hardly ever buy books or clothes or expensive makeup. I consider myself a minimalist, which saves me a ton of money. But there is nothing that I did that you can’t do.

If you really want to go to Paris – create a savings account for it, make a deadline, automate your savings, and plan your trip. If you want to do an around the world trip – create a savings account, make a deadline, automate your savings, and plan your trip. There is nothing required to go on a trip other than dedication to your savings and a bit of planning.

Let me know in the comments where you would like to go!

How to Create an Itinerary

People ask me all the time what travel agents/sites/companies I use. I don’t use any! I create my itinerary all by myself, which works best for me because (1) I’m kind of a control freak and (2) I get to research each place myself and decide what I would like to see and what I would rather skip. For example, I’m a vegan, so I’m not about to go on the meat and cheese tour in Paris. But I am very much looking forward to visiting a lot of parks and gardens. By planning your own itinerary, you get to decide what is most important to you – and this is the best way to ensure that you won’t be going on any tours or adventures that you aren’t super excited about.

I plan my itinerary in steps.

Step 1: go to Google Maps. Print out a map of the area that you are going. I am going to Western Europe, so I printed the following map.

Map

Step 2: Pick your destinations. I circled the cities that I would like to spend time in. A very useful tip: do not ever double back. This will waste time that you could spend enjoying a new town. Also, know that you will not be able to see everything in one trip. I would love to go to Ireland some day, I would love to go to Greece and Croatia (and I will!), but I will not be going to any of those places this time around. I also would like to spend an extended amount of time in Spain and Italy, but I will not be doing that this time around. I try to make the best with the time that I have, and make sure that I have time to really enjoy each place I go. I consider this trip an introduction to Europe for me, as it is my first time visiting there.

Step 3: Research each place you are going. I scoured TripAdvisor and Google to find the most recommended places to go in each city that I circled. I also make sure to leave room for unexpected trips. I am planning to befriend locals, as they always know the best places to go, and that is one of the most efficient ways to learn about the culture of the place you are visiting.

Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

Step 4: Using a word program, I create a list of the cities that I am going to (in order), with a list of things I would like to do in each city. I decide how long I will be in each city by the length of the list of things to do. I am very aware that my itinerary will most likely NOT go according to plan, and that is fine with me, but I do know that I would like some specific things to go according to plan. For example, I want to spend Christmas in Paris. I want to spend New Years in Barcelona. I am willing to move around other destinations if I need to to make sure this happens. Being flexible while travelling is super important.

That pretty much sums up how I create my itinerary. I make sure to create lists of things that I know I would like to see, but a lot of this trip I plan on spending making new friends, learning new languages, trying new foods, and forfeiting parts of my itinerary. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

How To Plan an Around the World Trip

Planning an around the world trip sounds slightly… intimidating. I’m not gonna lie, it’s a huge undertaking. It takes a lot of planning and preparation, especially if you are on a budget. You know it will be so worth it though – so here are my best tips for planning my around the world trip on a budget.

1. Pick your “must see” countries. My very very top countries to visit include Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, Italy, Greece, India, Indonesia, and Australia. I am trying to do this trip using the smallest possible amount of money though, so instead of buying a plane ticket from Greece to India, I am considering either land travel or skipping India. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Choose the most inexpensive forms of travel for a trip on a budget. Land travel is so much less expensive than flying in a plane. Choose land travel whenever possible to save the most money. To get from Costa Rica to Ecuador, I will be taking either a bus or train. Because there are some pretty awesome countries in between there, and I have time, I’ll most likely be spending a couple of weeks in Columbia before heading to Ecuador. I consider these little stopovers “bonus countries.” Plus, land travel can help you learn the country so much faster, and it’s a great way to meet locals.

3. Mix up expensive and inexpensive countries. Pay attention to conversion rates and plan accordingly. For example, let’s compare two of the places I am going – Costa Rica and Europe. The conversion rate between the US and Costa Rica is excellent – my dollar is much stronger in Costa Rica. It doesn’t work out quite so well in Europe though. To balance this out, I will be either couch surfing or WWOOFing in Europe, but staying in higher end places in Costa Rica. My mom and both sisters are meeting me in Costa Rica, so we are renting the coolest house in the world to stay at while they are there. This could turn out to be the most expensive accommodation that I pay for my entire trip, but to me it is well worth it, as we would not be able to afford a house like this in Europe (without spending an arm and a leg), and I will be staying with my family – it would be worth it to pay extra for privacy.

Back yard w/pool & BBQ Island

4. Plan the trip according to plane ticket prices. I originally wanted to go from Peru to Australia. But when I looked up pricing, I realized it’s about half the price to fly from Peru to Madrid than Peru to Sydney. This means that I am going from Peru to Madrid instead of to Sydney right away. Being flexible can save you tons of money when planning a trip. I’ll now be spending time in Australia toward the end of my trip, instead of the beginning.

5. Speaking of plane tickets, has anyone heard of the around the world ticket? There are some massive pros (and cons) to this ticket. The best part of this ticket is that you can plan it all out and not stress about plane tickets any more. I love knowing that things are finished and taken care of. You can change the dates with this lil gem also, so if you decide that you’d like to stay in Croatia for a bit longer, you can! It can also save you some money depending on your circumstance. However, you must use this ticket within one year, and you have to start and finish in the same place. I will not be purchasing this ticket, because I will be travelling for more than a year. If you decide not to use this ticket, check out my post on travel hacking for how to save major moolah on plane flights.

6. Plan time to plan your trip. I spend anywhere from 5-10 hours a week thinking about where I want to go, checking flights, checking couchsurfing.com, and dreaming. I have a very vague itinerary of things I want to see, but I am planning on buying a plane ticket and going exploring. Depending on your type of travel, you may want to spend more or less time on this portion.

What do you think of my tips? Have any of your own? Please let me know in the comments!

xo

Amanda